This Political Scientist's Observation About This Olympics Selfie Is On-Point

A symbol of unity, despite tension.

The relationship between North Korea and South Korea is still pretty rocky  — as it's been for many decades — but for just one moment at the 2016 Rio Olympics, that didn't seem to matter.

At a women's training session before a competition, two gymnasts — Lee Eun-ju from South Korea and Hong Un Jong from North Korea — posed for a friendly selfie that is going viral across social media, thanks to a perfectly worded tweet by political scientist Ian Bremmer. One of them even gave a peace sign to make the photo really special.

Bremmer's tweet expertly captured the significance of the moment. "This is why we do the Olympics," he wrote.


Both gymnasts are competing as individual qualifiers in Rio, but they each had different journeys to get to the games. 2016 marks Eun-ju's first Olympics.  Meanwhile, Un-Jong was the first North Korean Olympic medalist, having won the gold for her 2008 vault performance.

Technically, both Koreas are still at war. The armistice that ended the major conflict during the 1950s was originally only going to be temporary, but both sides never ironed out a long-term peace deal. This conflict has been especially difficult for some Korean residents who then waited decades until they could reunite with their relatives.

The selfie from the 2016 games wasn't the first moment of peace between both nations in Olympic history. In 2000, North Korean athletes joined their South Korean counterparts by walking together in the opening ceremony behind a single flag.

Moments like these that remind us that the Olympics are more than just a sporting event. They're an opportunity to prove that peace is always possible.

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Cover image via NBC Universal.

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